WBEZ | diplomacy http://www.wbez.org/tags/diplomacy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Fifth Anniversary of Tahrir Square Protests http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-29/fifth-anniversary-tahrir-square-protests-114640 <p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>Egypt: Protester Reflects on Five Years since Tahrir Square Protests</strong></span></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Egypt2.jpg" style="height: 829px; width: 620px;" title="An Egyptian man walks past an old graffiti in Mohammed Mahmoud street near Tahrir Square, related to the Arab spring and the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. The run-up to the anniversary has seen stepped-up security measures in Cairo, a new wave of arrests and security checks in the city's downtown, an area popular with young, pro-democracy activists. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)." /></div><p><strong><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/244440813&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="719px"></iframe></strong></p><p dir="ltr">This week marks the 5th anniversary of the beginning of protests in Egypt, which eventually became known as the &nbsp;&ldquo;Arab Spring.&rdquo; Five years ago hundreds &nbsp;of thousands of people across Egypt, especially in Cairo&rsquo;s Tarir Square, assembled to demand the ouster of longtime dictator, Hosni Mubarak. We&rsquo;ll talk with Salma Hussein, a 26 year-old Egyptian woman, who came of age during the protests. Hussein writes and reports extensively on human rights and democracy issues in Egypt. She&rsquo;s also under constant threat for criticizing the country&rsquo;s government and military. Hussein is in Chicago to spread awareness of what she says has been happening in Egypt since the Tarir protests began five years ago. She&rsquo;ll also talk about the plight of many of her friends, who she says are now imprisoned for speaking out against the government.</p><p dir="ltr">Guest: Salma Hussein is an Egyptian activist and blogger for the January 25th Movement.</p><hr /><p dir="ltr"><strong><span style="font-size:20px;">WHO To Determine Whether Zika Virus is &ldquo;Public Health Emergency&rdquo;</span></strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Zika1.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title=" A municipal worker gestures during an operation to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that transmits the Zika virus in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Brazil's health minister Marcelo Castro says the country is sending some 220,000 troops to battle the mosquito blamed for spreading a virus suspected of causing birth defects, but he also says the war is already being lost. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)." /></div><p><strong><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/244440966&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="719px"></iframe></strong></p><p dir="ltr">The World Health Organization is creating an &quot;emergency team&quot; to combat the Zika virus. The WHO has called the virus&rsquo;s spread &quot;explosive,&quot; and going &ldquo;from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions&quot;. The WHO also predicts three to four million cases of the virus and will meet next week to decide if the Zika crisis should be called a global emergency. We&rsquo;ll take a look at the &nbsp;potential public health emergency with Laura Rodrigues, professor of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She&rsquo;s currently in Brazil, one of the virus epicenters.</p><p dir="ltr">Guest: Laura Rodrigues is a professor of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.</p><hr /><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>Global Activism: Light and Leadership Initiative</strong></span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LandL.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Members of the Light and Leadership Initiative include volunteers from Peru, the United States, Finland, France and Australia (Courtesy of Light and Leadership Intiative)." /></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/244441159&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></strong></p><p dir="ltr">For Global Activism, we catch up with Global Activist, Lara DeVries. She left her childhood town of Tinley Park, Illinois and moved to Peru&rsquo;s Huaycan community to help impoverished families. DeVries is founder and executive director of Light and Leadership Initiative. Her group assists mothers and children in their struggle out of extreme poverty by improving access to quality education. DeVries updates us on her work in Peru.</p><p dir="ltr">Guest: Laura DeVries is the founder and executive director of Light and Leadership Initiative.</p></p> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 12:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-29/fifth-anniversary-tahrir-square-protests-114640 Who Was the Shiite Sheikh Executed by Saudi Arabia? http://www.wbez.org/news/who-was-shiite-sheikh-executed-saudi-arabia-114370 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/nimr-al-nimr-596f61b34113a22e2ef9fb546ca855ad30090afd.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res461918222" previewtitle="An Iraqi protester holds a poster of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia, during a protest Monday in front of the gate of the Green Zone in Baghdad."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="An Iraqi protester holds a poster of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia, during a protest Monday in front of the gate of the Green Zone in Baghdad." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/04/nimr-al-nimr_custom-7c26ccfff68e0b708164aebbb23f5ecfe3863bc1-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="An Iraqi protester holds a poster of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia, during a protest Monday in front of the gate of the Green Zone in Baghdad. (Ali Abbas/EPA /Landov)" /></div><div><div><p>Saudi Arabia&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/02/461754062/saudi-arabia-executes-47-including-prominent-cleric">execution of leading Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr</a>&nbsp;on Saturday<a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/02/461754062/saudi-arabia-executes-47-including-prominent-cleric">&nbsp;</a>sparked a violent protest at the Saudi Embassy in Iran&#39;s capital, Tehran. Saudi Arabia then quickly severed ties with its longtime regional rival.</p></div></div></div><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/04/461890063/bahrain-joins-saudi-arabia-cutting-diplomatic-ties-with-iran">As the broader Middle East reacts</a>&nbsp;to the dramatic deterioration in relations between the two countries, which have long been strained, here&#39;s a look at who Nimr was.</p><p>The cleric was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government, calling for more rights for the country&#39;s marginalized Shiite community.</p><p>Saudi Arabian Shias say they&#39;re treated like &quot;second-class citizens because they don&#39;t conform to the strict Sunni interpretation of Islam that defines the nation,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/05/09/405415756/saudi-shiites-fear-a-backlash-from-neighbor-yemen">as NPR&#39;s Leila Fadel reported</a>&nbsp;from a mostly Shiite province in Saudi Arabia last year. &quot;They can&#39;t hold high-ranking government or military positions, and they can&#39;t teach religion in public schools,&quot; Leila said.</p><p>&quot;From the day I was born and to this day, I&#39;ve never felt safe or secure in this country,&quot; Nimr said in a speech in 2011. &quot;We are not loyal to other countries or authorities, nor are we loyal to this country. What is this country? The regime that oppresses me? The regime that steals my money, sheds my blood, and violates my honor?&quot;</p><p>Leila says the Saudi government has portrayed Nimr as a violent radical loyal to Iran. Here&#39;s more from Leila:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;He spent some 15 years in exile, returning in the mid-90s.&nbsp;<br /><br />&quot;After that, he was in and out of prison for calling for free elections and at one point he suggested that the Shia majority eastern province, Qatif, secede from Saudi Arabia if demands weren&#39;t met.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>Nimr played a major role in demonstrations by Saudi&#39;s Shias in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring. At a protest in July 2012, he was arrested after being shot in the leg by police.</p><p>&quot;The cleric represents a more radical strain among Saudi Shiites, who feel the community&#39;s established leaders have failed to make headway with ending what they see as systematic discrimination,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-arrest-idUSBRE8670GH20120708">Reuters reported following Nimr&#39;s arrest</a>.</p><p><a href="https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/08RIYADH1283_a.html">According to a purported cable released by WikiLeaks</a>, a State Department official met with Nimr in 2008 in his hometown of Awamiyya, where Nimr said he was &quot;against the idea that Saudi Shi&#39;a should expect Iranian support based on some idea of sectarian unity that supersedes national politics.&quot; Here&#39;s more from the cable:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;Al-Nimr is currently gaining popularity locally, particularly with young people, as his words appeal to those disaffected by the general economic malaise experienced by Saudi Arabia&#39;s lower classes and a perceived lack of sufficient [Saudi Arabian Government] reform in relations with the Shi&#39;a community. Meanwhile, at a national and international level, with everyone from Salafi sheikhs to regional intelligence agencies, al-Nimr&#39;s words have gained him increased notoriety due to fears that his words will spark unrest and perhaps point to an Iranian hand in Saudi Arabia.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>Years later, &quot;he would differ with Iran on the subject of Syria ... [and] he denounced the oppression of the Syrian regime, even though it&#39;s backed by Tehran,&quot; Leila reported.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/10/18/357108117/saudi-clerics-death-sentence-focuses-shia-anger-on-ruling-family">Nimr was sentenced to death</a>&nbsp;in a closed trial on charges such as being disloyal to the ruling family, using violence and seeking foreign meddling. The case was widely criticized by rights groups.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/03/461862259/saudi-arabia-iran-face-off-as-sectarian-tensions-escalate-after-executions">As NPR&#39;s Deborah Amos reported</a>, Nimr&#39;s execution &quot;came as a surprise to many in Saudi, but the Saudi leadership was well aware of likely turbulent reactions.&quot; This is how one Gulf analyst described what motivated Saudi here:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;&#39;Carrying out the death sentence on Nimr sends a strong message to Saudi Arabia&#39;s aggrieved Shiite minority that Iran has no say in internal Saudi decisions and domestic dissent has limits.&#39;</em></p><p><em>&#39;There is also a calculation,&#39; says the analyst, &#39;the Saudis want to consolidate their alliances in the region &mdash; that would lead to a stark choice between the two sides.&#39; &quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/04/461912757/who-was-the-shiite-sheikh-executed-by-saudi-arabia?ft=nprml&amp;f=461912757" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 15:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/who-was-shiite-sheikh-executed-saudi-arabia-114370 Saudi Arabia and Iran: Here's How Their Feud Could Escalate http://www.wbez.org/news/saudi-arabia-and-iran-heres-how-their-feud-could-escalate-114369 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap_536552069669_custom-0f70519f7df98ab8092e0ad1b2229807d46d6938-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res461932953" previewtitle="Saudi Arabia's King Salman, shown on Dec. 9 in the capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has cut ties with its long-time rival Iran, a development that could complicate many of the existing problems in the Middle East."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Saudi Arabia's King Salman, shown on Dec. 9 in the capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has cut ties with its long-time rival Iran, a development that could complicate many of the existing problems in the Middle East." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/04/ap_536552069669_custom-0f70519f7df98ab8092e0ad1b2229807d46d6938-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 423px; width: 620px;" title="Saudi Arabia's King Salman, shown on Dec. 9 in the capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has cut ties with its long-time rival Iran, a development that could complicate many of the existing problems in the Middle East. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>In a Middle East already aflame,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/03/461862259/saudi-arabia-iran-face-off-as-sectarian-tensions-escalate-after-executions" target="_blank">a fresh feud</a>&nbsp;between Saudi Arabia and Iran threatens to complicate most every major issue from the Iranian nuclear deal to the Syrian civil war to global oil markets.</p></div></div></div><p>These are all U.S. priorities and the Obama administration finds itself staring at another Middle Eastern conundrum.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/iran-saudi-arabia-us-syria-217318" target="_blank">White House spokesman Josh Earnest</a>&nbsp;on Monday called on Iran and Saudi Arabia to exercise restraint and offered mild criticism of both.</p><p>His language pointed to the difficult position facing the administration. If the U.S. sides openly with its long-time ally Saudi Arabia, it will antagonize Iran, where President Obama has sought to move past decades of relentless hostility.</p><p>Yet if the White House opts for a balanced approach, Saudi Arabia could take it as an insult, feeling its close relationship with Washington is being sacrificed as part of U.S. outreach to Iran.</p><p>Saudi Arabia sees itself as the standard bearer of Sunni Islam and Iran regards itself as the defender of Shiite Muslims everywhere.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35221569" target="_blank">Their sectarian competition</a>&nbsp;has been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2007/02/12/7332087/the-origins-of-the-shiite-sunni-split" target="_blank">a fundamental fault line in the Middle East</a>&nbsp;for decades.</p><p>In broad strokes, the rivalry ramped up dramatically after&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2007/02/14/7392405/export-of-irans-revolution-spawns-violence" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s 1979 Islamic Revolution</a>&nbsp;and its efforts to export its brand of radical Islam among Shiites, a minority in the Muslim world that often feels oppressed by the far larger Sunni population. As Iran has sought greater influence, Sunnis have pushed back.</p><p>The rivalry has only intensified during the Middle East uprisings of the past several years, with the Saudis and Iranians waging proxy battles on multiple fronts.</p><p>The latest friction comes at a key moment for both states. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected in 2013 with a pledge to open up his country to the outside world, revive the economy and pursue at least limited social reforms.</p><p>Saudi Arabia&#39;s King Salman ascended the throne just last year and has shown signs of acting in a more decisive manner than his predecessors. His boldest move has been a bombing campaign in Yemen, where the Saudis and Iran are on opposite sides of that country&#39;s war.</p><p>Here are several other places where the Saudi-Iranian friction is likely to play out:</p><div id="res461930231"><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p><strong>Syria&#39;s Cease-Fire Talks:&nbsp;</strong>This may be the most immediate casualty, with the already slim chances for a truce in Syria now facing even longer odds, according to Ali Ansari, a history professor specializing in Iran at St. Andrews University in Scotland. The discussions set for Jan. 25 in Geneva are now likely to be &quot;delayed, if not shelved,&quot; he said in an interview on Monday.</p><p>Just last month, the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers both took part in<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/05/world/middleeast/bahrain-sudan-united-arab-emirates-join-diplomatic-feud-against-iran.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">&nbsp;high-level talks in New York</a>&nbsp;on the Syrian war, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hailed it as an important step.</p><p>But Iran and Saudi are on opposite sides in the Syrian war, one of their main battlegrounds, and will be less inclined to compromise in the current atmosphere. For Persian Iran, Syrian President Bashar Assad is their most important Arab ally and they have propped him up since the uprising against him began nearly five years ago. Assad is an Alawite, which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.</p><p>The Saudis, in turn, believe their fellow Sunnis, who make up the majority in Syria, should run the country. The Saudis are part of the U.S.-led coalition and have supported opposition factions in Syria throughout the war.</p><p><strong>The Oil Market:&nbsp;</strong>Saudi Arabia is the world&#39;s largest oil exporter and could cut production to push up prices that have fallen below $40 a barrel, down from more than $100 in the summer of 2014.</p><p>But Saudi has made clear it&#39;s willing to endure the pain of lower oil prices. Why? According to analysts, at least part of the Saudi calculation is that it doesn&#39;t want to help Iran, which is anticipating the lifting of international sanctions that will allow it resume as a major player in the oil market.</p><p>The Saudis are betting that their large cash reserves will allow them to hold out longer and retain their current share of the market compared to Iran and other countries that have much weaker economies.</p><p>If this analysis proves accurate, then oil production is likely to remain high and world prices low. But there&#39;s always the risk that one of the Middle East&#39;s many conflicts could disrupt the flow of oil, cutting supplies and pushing up prices. That hasn&#39;t happened, but the Saudis and the Iranians both export through the crowded waterways of the Gulf.</p><div id="res461933799" previewtitle="Iranian women in the capital Tehran demonstrate against the execution of a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr (seen on the signs). He was among 47 people beheaded by Saudi authorities on Saturday, a move that escalated tensions between the two countries."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Iranian women in the capital Tehran demonstrate against the execution of a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr (seen on the signs). He was among 47 people beheaded by Saudi authorities on Saturday, a move that escalated tensions between the two countries." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/04/gettyimages-503342552_custom-032fd55d65f2baab578193933fd6157b6e8d80be-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 391px; width: 620px;" title="Iranian women in the capital Tehran demonstrate against the execution of a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr, as seen on the signs. He was among 47 people beheaded by Saudi authorities on Saturday, a move that escalated tensions between the two countries. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p><strong>Iran Nuclear Deal:</strong>&nbsp;The early signs on the deal between Iran and six world powers have been mostly positive. Iran has been scaling back its nuclear program at a pace that exceeds what many expected. The country could meet the targets as soon as this month, which would trigger &quot;implementation day,&quot; meaning many sanctions would be lifted and Iran would start to get some $100 billion in oil revenues that has been withheld.</p></div></div></div><p>However, Iran has also staged ballistic missile tests, arguing this is not part of the nuclear deal.</p><p>This has prompted critics of the nuclear pact to renew their objections. And Saudi Arabia, along with Israel&#39;s government and conservatives in the U.S., have been the leading opponents of the deal. They may not be in a position to derail it. But even if the agreement stays on track, it may not build confidence if other disputes in the region keep tensions running high.</p><p>Many Iranians have high hopes that end of sanctions will improve their quality of life. But if that doesn&#39;t happen, the deal could then be blamed for ongoing problems.</p><p><strong>Domestic Politics:&nbsp;</strong>The Saudi and Iranian actions can also be viewed through the lens of their own domestic politics. Saudi Arabia&#39;s execution of 47 people on Saturday was, in many Saudi eyes, part of a crackdown of domestic extremists who could potentially threaten the monarchy.</p><p>In Iran, hardliners are preparing for parliamentary elections next month against moderates allied with President Hassan Rouhani. The hardliners seized on the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/02/461753992/saudi-arabias-killing-of-leading-shiite-cleric-and-46-others-sparks-outcry" target="_blank">Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/04/461912757/who-was-the-shiite-sheikh-executed-by-saudi-arabia" target="_blank">Nimr al-Nimr</a>, as a way to whip up support among their supporters at home.</p><p>&quot;The biggest losers in the last 24 hours are Rouhani and the moderate wing in Iran,&quot; says Salman Shaikh, the former head of the Brookings Center in Doha, Qatar, who now runs a private consultancy.</p><p>Hardliners are hoping to make big gains in the elections and block Rouhani and other moderates from promoting reforms, he added.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/01/04/461896683/saudi-arabia-and-iran-heres-how-their-feud-could-escalate?ft=nprml&amp;f=461896683" target="_blank"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 15:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/saudi-arabia-and-iran-heres-how-their-feud-could-escalate-114369 Sister cities: Chicago's international family http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sister-cities-chicagos-international-family-110498 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/158996525&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We use the word &ldquo;sister&rdquo; when we talk about our siblings or sometimes our best friends, people who are so close they might as well be family. But what does it mean to call a <em>city</em> a sister?</p><p>Maybe you&#39;ve seen a TV news bite announce reps from a sister city are in Chicago to drum up business or support a new cultural venture. Or, maybe someone tipped you off that the showy row of flags at O&#39;Hare International Airport hail from Chicago&#39;s sister cities.</p><p>Chicagoan Kelly Pedersen has been wondering what this phenomenon&rsquo;s all about, so he converted his long-standing curiosity into this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Chicago currently has 28 &quot;sister cities&quot; around the globe. What is the process of determining a &quot;sister city&quot;, and what are the benefits?</em></p><p>We looked into the nearly 60-year history of citizen diplomacy with Chicago&rsquo;s sister cities. It turns out Chicago has the most active sister city program in the country, and it receives at least one request every week from someone hoping to join its global family.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">How did the program start?</span></p><p>President Dwight D. Eisenhower kicked things off in 1956, when he developed a White House conference on citizen diplomacy. The idea was to help mend relationships among former combatants in WWII and the Korean War by creating people-to-people exchanges, says Leroy Allala, executive director of <a href="http://chicagosistercities.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Sister Cities International</a>. The non-profit organization manages the sister city program for Chicago.</p><p>The city signed its first agreement with Warsaw, Poland, in 1960. Allala says it made sense &ldquo;that most of our early sister city partnerships were with cities in places like Europe and Japan, countries that had been impacted by World War II.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>With 28 agreements in hand, Chicago has the largest sister city program in the United States, Allala says. The city&rsquo;s network spans the globe from Accra, Ghana, to Milan, Italy. Los Angeles has 25 sister cities, but it doesn&rsquo;t run as many programs or exchanges as Chicago, Allala says. He adds that Laredo, Texas, has also challenged Chicago on its claim but that&rsquo;s because &ldquo;they are on the border with Mexico. Every time they send an ambulance to a border town, they sign a sister city agreement. That&rsquo;s not really what sister cities is about.&rdquo;</p><p>Mayors Richard J. Daley, Jane Byrne and Harold Washington all signed sister city agreements while they were in office, but the program really took off under Mayor Richard M. Daley, who signed 21 of Chicago&rsquo;s 28 sister city agreements.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/germany%20for%20WEB.jpg" title="Mayor Richard M. Daley and Hamburg, Germany Mayor Dr. Henning Voscherau sign a sister cities partnership in 1994. (Photo courtesy Chicago Sister Cities International)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Expanding Chicago&rsquo;s family: Who makes the cut?</span></p><p>Eileen Hubbell was the director of protocol and director of international relations under Mayor Richard M. Daley. As she recalls it, the organic process &ldquo;is really often compared &nbsp;to a marriage and every agreement has its own love story, if you will. And there are a number of factors that come into play. There have been times over the years when Chicago was pursued and other times when we were doing the pursuing.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>When Daley came into office there were seven sister cities and by the time he left office, there were 28. He also signed an executive order in 1990 to create a volunteer board of directors for Chicago Sister Cities International that would focus on expanding sister city relationships. Hubble says Daley felt strongly that the relationships should mean something, and he believed that &ldquo;you just don&rsquo;t sign a piece of paper and forget about it.&rdquo;</p><p>Hubble says Mayor Daley worked with the city&rsquo;s ethnic communities, business leaders and civic institutions to identify potential cities. &ldquo;He really made it known that Chicago was a global city, that we needed to build on that, and that everyone was welcome at the table to build on that initiative,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Cindy Mitchell was the first chair of the committee involved with Casablanca, Morocco. She agrees that Mayor Daley was eager to promote Chicago overseas and went after many potential sister cities. &ldquo;There were some turn-downs but not too many,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I truly believe &mdash; and I may be very naive &mdash; that it was not political, that he genuinely enjoyed these kind of relationships. I think he enjoyed visiting these countries and getting to know their mayors.&rdquo;</p><p>So at times Chicago approached a potential sister, but in some cases they approached Chicago. An example of the latter would be when the mayor of Hamburg, Germany, proposed a sister city agreement. His cause gained support from Alderman Gene Schulter, who was of German heritage. Chicago signed that partnership in 1994.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size:18px;">Map: Chicago&#39;s sister cities, 2014</span></em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2+from+19fE5LVOtn4N6CJvdv5FbFyplcy2f2vxPinw4Hvsi&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=32.83198545051575&amp;lng=51.75944563631526&amp;t=1&amp;z=2&amp;l=col2&amp;y=2&amp;tmplt=2&amp;hml=KML" width="620"></iframe><iframe frameborder="no" height="250" scrolling="yes" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=CARD&amp;q=select+*+from+19fE5LVOtn4N6CJvdv5FbFyplcy2f2vxPinw4Hvsi&amp;tmplt=3&amp;cpr=3" width="620"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em style="font-size: 9px;">Source: <a href="http://chicagosistercities.com/sister-cities/" target="_blank">Chicago Sister Cities International</a></em></p><p>In other instances, Chicago&rsquo;s ethnic communities took the initiative. In 1991 a group of leaders from Chicago&rsquo;s Ukrainian community wanted to demonstrate support for Ukraine, which had just gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union.</p><p>Under the Iron Curtain, Ukrainians hadn&rsquo;t really been allowed to travel, but in the early &lsquo;90s they began visiting Chicago. At the same time, many Chicago-based companies were exploring investment in Ukraine, says Marta Farion. She was part of the group of Ukrainian Americans who felt the best way to support a newly-independent Ukraine would be through a sister city agreement.</p><p>&ldquo;We thought, &lsquo;Wouldn&rsquo;t it be wonderful to help give people some hope by making Kiev a sister city and open up a door for person-to-person exchange,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Farion.</p><p>The group presented the idea to Mayor Daley, who agreed. Farion&rsquo;s husband, Ihor, then hand-carried a letter to the mayor of Kiev asking to partner with Chicago. Kiev agreed later that year.</p><p>Chicago uses a loose set of criteria to determine whether a city would be a good fit as a sister city. Among them is the potential partner&rsquo;s size; Chicago, Allala says, would never partner with a small village of just 1,000 people, for example.</p><p>Another criterion: whether Chicago and the potential partner already have strong cultural connections. This came to play in the selection of Warsaw in 1960, says Allala. &ldquo;Chicago is known to have the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So we consider ourselves very much a Polish city and I&rsquo;m sure at that time considered Chicago and Warsaw to be a natural fit.&rdquo;</p><p>Through the years, Chicago has also considered cities that reside near a body of water or that are also viewed as &lsquo;second cities&rsquo; in their home country, Allala says.</p><p>Another factor taken into account is whether Chicago has a local community that will take ownership of the relationship and ensure that it won&rsquo;t just lay dormant. According to Sam Scott, the Board Chairman of Chicago Sister Cities International, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s very important that we have representation from a city or a country here.&rdquo;</p><p>The ultimate decision on whether to establish an agreement, however, rests with the mayors of both cities. When they agree, they sign a formal document and hold a special signing ceremony to mark the occasion.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SISTER cities flags for web dan xoneil.jpg" title="Flags representing Chicago's sister cities on display at Daley Plaza in 2013. (Flickr/Daniel X. O'Neil)" /></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="termination"></a>Can a sister city agreement be terminated?</span></p><p>Chicago has never terminated a sister city agreement, but that&rsquo;s not to say things have always been tension-free. Farion says when the Chinese government massacred pro-democracy protesters in Beijing at Tiananmen Square in 1989, the Sister Cities&rsquo; board considered ending Chicago&rsquo;s agreements with Shenyang and Shanghai as a sign of protest.</p><p>But ultimately, Farion says, the board decided to pull back because &ldquo;the whole role of the sister city program is to improve relations between people. It is not a government-to-government relationship; it is a people-to-people relationship.&rdquo;</p><p>Earlier this year, a City Council committee passed a resolution asking Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to suspend the sister city agreement with Moscow. Mayor Rahm Emanuel opposed that resolution, and aldermen approved a substitute resolution declaring the city&rsquo;s &ldquo;solidarity with the Ukrainian community.&rdquo;</p><p>Sam Scott testified before the city council supporting the continuation of the relationship with Moscow.</p><p>As Allala puts it: &ldquo;Signing a sister city agreement is like a marriage, but we don&rsquo;t have divorce in our world.&rdquo;</p><p>Other U.S. cities have terminated agreements, however. According to Megha Swamy, a public relations specialist for Sister Cities International, this doesn&#39;t happen very often. The group doesn&#39;t have official numbers, but it&#39;s aware of this happening at least once in the past five years. In 2013, the city council in Lansing, Michigan, voted 7-0 to adopt a resolution calling for an end to its sister city ties with St. Petersburg, Russia, because of legislation passed there which banning expressions of &ldquo;homosexual propaganda.&rdquo; The law criminalizes &ldquo;public action aimed at propagandising sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors.&rdquo;</p><p>Sister Cities International says the organization <a href="http://www.sister-cities.org/sites/default/files/SCI%20Policy_Political%20Disputes.pdf">does not encourage termination </a>of agreements.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">What are the benefits?</span></p><p>Among the benefits of the Sister Cities program, according to Scott, is &ldquo;a pride in ownership of various immigrant communities in the city.&rdquo; He adds, &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s very good for people to be able to stand up and say: I am whatever I happen to be, proud of it, and Sister Cities helps to promote that.&rdquo;</p><p>Sister cities committees organize numerous activities, including student exchange programs. Sullivan High School in the Rogers Park neighborhood has an ongoing &ldquo;sister school&rdquo; relationship with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gymaltona.de" target="_blank">Gymnasium Altona</a>, a high school in Hamburg, Germany. Sullivan Principal Chad Adams says that he wants to see the students&rsquo; worlds expand, and that travel benefits students. The school values this exchange program, Adams says, because of the long-term effect &ldquo;that kids&rsquo; minds are more global, and they&rsquo;re more thoughtful about humanity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB Justine Ogbevire at Sullivan - possible gang graffitti on piano.jpg" title="Justine Ogbevire recently visited Hamburg, Germany as part of the sister cities program. (Photo by Katie Klocksin) " /></p><p><span style="text-align: center;">Justine Ogbevire, a Sullivan student, was part of a student trip to Hamburg this May. &ldquo;I feel like it was a huge breather. ... &nbsp;I feel like my mind is open,&rdquo; she says. The overseas flight was her first time traveling on an airplane. She was nervous during takeoff but ultimately concluded &ldquo;airplanes are not that scary.&rdquo;</span></p><p>According to Sam Scott, a sister city relationship can also have economic benefits. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s amazing how well culture and education tie together with business,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You facilitate the dialogue around the business opportunity over some of the other issues.&rdquo;</p><p>Leroy Allala says partnerships have expanded economic development within Chicago&rsquo;s Sister Cities network, and have also promoted Chicago as a place to do business: &ldquo;In addition to the great culture, education, arts, and tourism, business is also happening. So that&rsquo;s another benefit of the program.&rdquo;</p><p>Sometimes the agreements have literally altered how the city looks. Case in point: the window sills of the Chicago Cultural Center. Mayor Daley got the idea for them after a visit to Hamburg. That German city&#39;s bridges are lined with flower boxes, says Rolf Achilles, a member of the Hamburg committee for Chicago Sister Cities International. He was on the trip with Daley when he got the idea to do something similar in Chicago. Achilles says a group of engineers worked for more than a year in Chicago, trying to find a way to put the flower boxes on Chicago&rsquo;s movable bridges. But, he says, they couldn&rsquo;t find a way to make them work when the bridges would be raised, so Daley settled on the windows of the city&rsquo;s buildings instead.</p><p>Eileen Hubbell says the reason Chinese is taught in some Chicago public schools is also because of our sister cities program. She says when Mayor Daley made a trip to visit Shenyang and Shanghai, where he saw Chinese kids studying English. She says Daley came to the conclusion that he didn&rsquo;t want &ldquo;our kids here to be left behind.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What&rsquo;s next?</span></p><p>No sister city agreement has been signed since Mayor Rahm Emanuel entered office in 2011. Chicago Sister Cities International is currently evaluating its selection process.</p><p>The program was recently moved out of the Department of Cultural Affairs and placed under the direction of World Business Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;World Business Chicago is very much business oriented. Sister Cities is more culturally and educationally oriented. The two work very very well together,&rdquo; says Scott. &ldquo;So we&rsquo;ve been working on a strategic plan. ... And we&rsquo;ll start looking at how we grow the Sister Cities program going forward to benefit both the cultural and educational piece as well as immigration and tourism for sister cities, tie that together with the growth of business opportunity.&rdquo;</p><p>If you&rsquo;re wondering which city is most likely to be Chicago&#39;s next partner, we couldn&rsquo;t get anyone to provide a specific name. However, Sam Scott says they are looking to grow in South America. Rumor has it that Sao Paolo, Brazil, has been hoping to become part of the Chicago family. We&rsquo;ll just have to wait and see. &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Pederson%205%20for%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 214px; width: 170px; float: left;" title="Kelly Pedersen, who asked Curious City about Chicago's sister cities. " /><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Kelly Pedersen</span></p><p>Kelly Pedersen of Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood has a long-standing interest in international relations. Although there&rsquo;s a lot of negative news in the international arena, Kelly says &ldquo;my interests lie in looking &nbsp;for instances where an outcome is positive, or some ground is gained toward cultural, or economic, or diplomatic resolutions.&rdquo; Naturally, the Sister Cities program caught Kelly&rsquo;s attention. He wondered, for example, how our sister cities are chosen. Kelly noticed that some of our Sister Cities were in countries with large immigrant populations in Chicago such as Warsaw, Poland; Galway, Ireland; and Milan, Italy.</p><p>Eventually, Kelly decided &ldquo;there has to be more to the process than just having a sizable cultural representation: I wonder what else is involved?&rdquo; So, he teamed up with Curious City to find some answers.</p><p><em>Corrections: An early draft of this story misspelled a source&#39;s name. The correct spelling is Eileen Hubbell. An early draft of this story suggested a major event would occur later this summer. The next major sister cities event, the Consular Ball, is set for December of this year.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Alexandra Salomon is a producer for Worldview, WBEZ&rsquo;s daily global affairs program. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/AlexandraSalomo" target="_blank">@AlexandraSalomo</a>.</em></p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is a freelance radio producer. Follow her: <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sister-cities-chicagos-international-family-110498 Iran accused of plot to kill Saudi ambassador to the U.S. http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-19/iran-accused-plot-kill-saudi-ambassador-us-93284 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-19/iran3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The story seems pulled from a movie script: Last week, the U.S. government alleged that officials high up in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard concocted a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S., with the help of a Mexican drug gang. Members of the Iranian security force, U.S. officials said, intended to detonate a bomb at a crowded restaurant in Washington D.C., killing the ambassador as well as over 100 bystanders.</p><p>We sit down and parse through the accusations with <a href="http://www.niacouncil.org/site/PageServer?pagename=About_parsi" target="_blank">Trita Parsi</a>, director of the <a href="http://www.niacouncil.org/" target="_blank">National Iranian American Council</a>. Born in Iran, Trita fled the country with his family at the age of four to escape political repression. He's an expert on diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran.</p></p> Wed, 19 Oct 2011 16:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-19/iran-accused-plot-kill-saudi-ambassador-us-93284 U.S. Embassy attacked in Syria as government anti-democracy crackdown continues http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-13/us-embassy-attacked-syria-government-anti-democracy-crackdown-continues- <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-13/syria1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Syria bolstered security around the U.S. embassy in Damascus after Monday’s attack by a pro-government mob on the compound drew worldwide rebuke. After weeks of restrained U.S. reaction to Syria’s brutal crackdown on democracy protestors, diplomatic exchanges between the countries are now tense. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has lost legitimacy” and was “not indispensable.” Some believe this change in tone could indicate a policy shift. Joshua Landis, author of the blog <a href="http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/" target="_blank">“Syria Comment”</a> and director of the <a href="http://www.ou.edu/content/ipc/home/left_navigation/center_for_middleeaststudies.html" target="_blank">Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma</a>, joins us to talk about the ongoing unrest in Syria and the possibilities for any U.S. or NATO intervention.</p></p> Wed, 13 Jul 2011 15:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-13/us-embassy-attacked-syria-government-anti-democracy-crackdown-continues-